During the holiday season, cybercriminals are more prevalent than ever. With most consumers utilizing online marketplaces to shop for hot-ticket gifts, it’s easy for digital landscapes to become overrun with scammers. This year, one of the most prevalent issues that shoppers and online retailers face is a “Grinch Bot.” The malicious software has become such a problem that government officials are pushing a bill to outlaw these bots. Today, we answer the question “what is a Grinch Bot” and show you how to protect yourself while shopping for presents online.

Holiday Cybersecurity Risks

There are a number of ways that cybercriminals take advantage of the holidays when targetting their victims. From scams to ransomware, malicious hackers are always finding new ways to exploit cybersecurity weaknesses and prey on unsuspecting people. The holidays are lucrative for cybercriminals because online shopping occurs more than at any other point in the year. This gives attackers more opportunities to obtain sensitive data from unprotected IP addresses, unsecured websites, and more. 

Cyber attacks typically occur on public WiFi with weak security because it’s easier for malicious hackers to gain access. These unsecured networks are often found in high-traffic areas like malls, airports, and hotels. Unfortunately, those locations also see a drastic increase in their volume of traffic during the holidays. This leads to an increase in cybersecurity risks for consumers and a wider range of potential targets for criminals.

Online shopping scams are another unfortunate aspect of the holiday season. Fake online stores crop up around the end of the year, hoping to capitalize on the holiday shopping rush. These stores are usually a way for threat actors to obtain credit card information from their victims. Other scams involve fake online shops sending a different product than the one they advertised. Ultimately, there are more scams in the world of online shopping than we can list in just one post. One popular scam currently in motion is run by scalpers, called a Grinch Bot.

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What is a Grinch Bot?

A Grinch Bot is an automatic bot that crawls websites and purchases items in bulk to later resell at higher prices. The act of buying up popular products and selling them with a mark-up is known as “scalping.” Commonly, scalpers institute this practice with tickets for public events. However, a law passed in 2016 made it illegal for automated bots to crawl and purchase tickets. This same law made it illegal to resell those tickets. 

Cybercriminals running automated bots have now moved on to other popular items such as tech, video games, and even toys. Scalpers running these bots are forcing parents to pay double, or even triple, for some popular games and toys. Due to the time of year when these bots became more prevalent, this line of bots has earned the name “Grinch Bot.”

There are officials hoping to move forward with the “Stopping Grinch Bots Act,” which would make them illegal. Until then, it’s important to keep yourself safe online from bots and more.

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Protecting Your Privacy Online

When it comes to protecting yourself from bots, malware, and other types of cyber attacks, you’ll need additional security. Cybercriminals are always looking for a way to infiltrate a network or device that has vulnerabilities. Your data is at risk while you download files or shop online with an unsafe connection. Keeping yourself secure while on the Internet has never been more important, especially during this time of year. 

One of the best ways to keep yourself safe online is to never give away any personal data. With social media, it can be easy to accidentally overshare information that can put you at risk of a cyber attack. Something as simple as sharing the name of your school or workplace can put you in danger of a cybersecurity breach. 

Using a reliable VPN is another great way to keep yourself safe online. With a secure VPN, you can encrypt your IP address and prevent attackers from knowing your true location. Masking the IP address on your device or network can stop prying eyes from obtaining your personal information. VPNs are one of the most effective ways to encrypt your favorite devices and ensure that they’re secure.

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